Block Passage of Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill
Responsible department: Home Office
Organisations such as the Manifesto Club and the human rights group Liberty have expressed serious concerns regarding the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill. Provisions within the bill criminalise any behaviour which can potentially cause 'nuisance or annoyance' from the age of 10. It also grants local authorities, police and even private security firms sweeping powers to bar citizens from assembling lawfully in public spaces, which seriously curtails the rights to protest and freedom of assembly. Those who defy orders under the new rules will face arrest, fines and even prison time. This is a threat to human rights and effectively renders the United Kingdom a police state. It is absolutely essential that the bill is stopped unless it is amended to address current concerns.
This e-petition has received the following response:
As this e-petition has received more than 10 000 signatures, the relevant Government department have provided the following response:
Anti-social behaviour blights communities, causes misery to victims and is often targeted at the most vulnerable members of our society. Even comparatively minor incidents can have a devastating impact on victims’ quality of life when part of a persistent, targeted campaign of abuse. As a result, it is the impact on the victim, rather than just the behaviour, which makes ‘anti-social behaviour’ anti-social.
It is wrong to suggest that anyone over the age of 10 could be ‘criminalised’ as a result of the new injunction. On the contrary, unlike the ASBO which it is intended to replace, the new injunction is a civil power which does not result in a criminal conviction when it is issued or breached. Instead, it is designed to be preventative, nipping problem behaviours in the bud quickly and stopping them escalating. In addition, the inclusion of positive requirements means that a perpetrator can be helped to address the underlying causes of their behaviour, helping to turn them away from more serious criminality. Although the Government does not accept that the wording in Clause 1 to which the E-petition refers could have the effects attributed to them, we have in the light of concerns expressed in the House of Lords amended the text in question to one of “harassment, alarm or distress” The test of “nuisance or annoyance” will remain for housing and will be considered by the court alongside the test of whether it is “just and convenient” to grant an injunction. This dual test, used for a decade by social landlords to deal with anti-social behaviour, means that no court in the land would issue an injunction to deal with perfectly reasonable behaviours.
The Coalition Government has always maintained that none of the powers in the Bill could be used to curtail rights enshrined in the European Convention of Human Rights. However, concerns have been raised that some of the new powers will be used to restrict individuals’ ability to peacefully protest or assemble. To make this completely clear, we have made a clear reference to the importance of Articles 10 and 11 of the Convention within the Bill.
This e-petition remains open to signatures and will be considered for debate by the Backbench Business Committee should it pass the 100 000 signature threshold.
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